Josefov, Czech Republic, 8. - 11. August 2018
August 8th to 11th 2018 gathered again many metalheads from around the world in the nice military fortress from Josefov to celebrate good music and enjoy few days at one of the largest European metal festivals.
Between this year’s visible improvements (compared to previous editions) we must mention the very quick entrance. No more waiting/ques due to the pre order wristbands option and top ups. The cashless system works quite well, 2 people can even use same account. Though some troubles arose… 3% charging fee in festival area if paying by card (when topping up), in case of money return (to fest users) a 50 czk fee plus bank fees, minimum charge amount 100 czk. The cashless system is kind of loosing meaning if you have to carry around cash in order to top up and avoid fees. Merch items fall in same story – direct payment by credit/bank card would be much easier rather than carrying cash around, go to top up and then be able to purchase something. A few thoughts would be required around all the system functionality.
Beer and beverages were ok, nice offer and variety, a few special ones (IPA, APA…), decent prices (though each year they tent to increase). The regular beer in the fest area – you receive it in the nice festival plastic cups (nice work on those) meant to be 0.5ml… reality is most times you get 0.4ml and a lot of foam. Food offer was very good and glad to see so many options even vegan and vegetarian friendly. Prices for food in the festival were ok (but same story as with the beer) but we did notice something that could fall into fake advertising – in some food kiosks you have visible the price for food but what is not visible (until you get to pay) is that they charge extra for plates. That’s a bit odd given the circumstances and not really the case to carry your own dishes to avoid it… Somehow connected to this is yet the lack of drinking water. On such temperatures water should be available free of charge. There were instead the fire trucks and the few showers to make the audience chill down.
Weather was really hot the first 2 days on Wednesday and Thursday. Then a bit of rain and more standable temperatures on Friday then back to hot (yet okish) on Saturday. One thing to remember is the dust everywhere… at least you can’t certainly say you missed the fairy dust.
This year the festival kicked off with a Tuesday party – maybe soon we will get to a full week festival like in Slovenia at Metal Days. For the ones looking for some disco music or party – that was not forgotten either even at a metal festival. In the merch area one tent ensured disco music and people gathered dancing and cheering. Metalheads with dance moves like they were born on the dance floor :-D
We also noticed the smoking ban and announcement (risk of fire) but weird is to see the festival crew are the ones not following it. During Myrkur concert a fire started to glimpse on the fortress wall (most likely caused by a cigarette butt). There was no big drama (fire cars took care of it after it was already turned off) besides the gig being stopped in the middle.
Toi toi facilities were ok(ish) but would require a more often cleaning schedule. Was perfect to have the second set of paid toilets (boxes) next to the metalgate stage as this avoided a new wall of pee and its consequent smell. A good and fun addition were the bumper cars in the merch area – saw many have fun in there but can’t forget the lady’s voice repeating over and over again “don’t crash the cars or you will bleed to death” :D. This year a new fortress area was open to public in the back behind expo with beer open terrace, bars, iron workshop.
This year’s festival logo was the zombie sheep. You could see it on all paying devices with the funny “sheep here”. For animal lovers you could also see the real sheep (not turned yet in zombies though) in the back merch area near the bumper cars. Around the stages on the fortress walls during concerts you could look at the brutal “ninjas” (or batmans?) or the goats grazing on grass and having no issue at all with the crowd, noise… maybe for next year some zombie goats? (a bit more evil then sheep) :-D
The sound was ok in general, good equipment and effort proven though some bands had issues. Yet annoying watching a band perform and hear the band on next stage (and that is really close as stages are one next to another) perform sound checks. A good addition was the new storage found in the merch area. On Friday morning there was a plane show with 4 planes flying over the festival area. The natural stand was very quick sold out. It has its advantages and ensure a good visibility over both main stages and has its own beer tent. Then you also need to crawl down each time you need to go to toilet and you always have all flashy lights right in your face.
The festival slogan is from long time “against cruelty and intolerance” and overall it plays quite well. Is a safe fest, ok crowd and people though sometimes we tend to forget why things are being said… Some crew especially under main stages proved to have a short memory when speaking about cruelty and intolerance with the people stage diving. Examples on the not so bright side can also be found amongst the crowd but that’s to be expected…
The new phone app was amazing and really easy to use. Very good made and convenient especially in such a festival where the bands run from early morning till close to 3 am and there are no breaks between the bands. With such a stuffed schedule is impossible to really see all you initially plan to unless you transform in a superhuman and run the festival music marathon. Not a complaint – it basically shows how many bands perform yearly at the festival, how many musical styles are covered and that there is always something for everyone.
Nice to see the wooden wall covering the toilets (a bit of privacy never hurt anyone) and the increased number of tv screens placed around allowing you to check what is happening on the stages. The horror cinema made from old car seats was a good place to chill. Other areas good to be aware of were the coffin exhibitions, old metal zines exhibitions, freaky art exhibitions and installations, Lemmy Kilmister commemorative little hall and the indoor bars.
Some of the highlights from Wednesday: Oscure Sphinx, Bleed From Within, Armored Saint, Shelter, Steve’N’Seagulls, Comeback Kid, Brujeria, TBDM, Helmet, Cannibal Corpse, Gojira, Paradise Lost, Tormentor, Ingested, Toxic Holocaust, Ratos de Porao, Kurokuma, Oraculum, Lvmen.
Wednesday started for some with Steve’N’Seagulls and their funny rhymes and music in general. Brujeria as always had a good performance and ensured everybody present to see them is on the same page. Cannibal Corpse is a must and never seen a bad gig of theirs. The singer can definitely beat any metalhead when it comes to headbanging. Nice balanced set with a perfect performance to end in “Hammer Smashed Face”. The French folks from Gojira are another must see – amazing live set, good sound, perfect vocals, balanced guitars and such an atmosphere… clearly a big crowd where everyone enjoyed the gig. Last must-see band of the day was Paradise Lost. No matter how many times you have seen them before… well, you can’t just say no to such a cult and acknowledged band. Spot on performance, nostalgia on the very old tracks, newer songs like from a different world and a few guitar problems that in the end passed unnoticed (too much).
Some of the highlights from Thursday: Ramchat, Godless Truth, Broken Hope, Diabolical, Persefone, Counterparts, Exhorder, H2O, Municipal Waste, SSOGE, Carnifex, Green Carnation, Dying Fetus, Myrkur, Moonspell, Laibach, Converge, Marduk, Blood Incantation, Ravelin 7, Grave Pleasures, Obscure Sphinx.
A good day starts with a good death metal band like the Americans from Broken Hope. Good sound and impressive appearance despite the early hour. Next impressive act (after we had to suffer a bit on the silent stream of endless boredom that performed right before) was another American band from California. Formed in 2005 and managing to perform an impeccable set Carnifex truly amazed the crowd. Their 2016 album Slow Death is one of the best-balanced albums ever made, a masterpiece. Was a true surprise to see how many gathered for a nice deathcore portion. Clean sound, tons of energy, elaborate guitars and a kicking drum. One of the best performances for the full festival. Well done! Green Carnation are not bad at all… ultra clean vocals, heavy guitars, melancholic music… the problem was to turn off the energy after Carnifex and challenge yourself to sit still and watch Green Carnation. It was worth. Then back to energy with Dying Fetus being another band never being able to keep a bad performance. Amazing set and impeccable sound. Time for one of the most expected acts has come with Myrkur. Such a voice with such a flexibility to pass from clean vocals to extreme growls. Too bad after a few songs the electricity fails… and it takes long, too long to get it fixed. Then again, a bit of music and a fire bursts up on the fortress walls. You could see fire extinguishers and then the fire cars… a bit of chaos and of course…no more Myrkur gig. Such a pity… Hopefully they will be back next year to redo the almost undone concert. Moonspell were meant to substitute Pain who cancelled shortly before the festival start. Well, again you can’t say Moonspell is a bad band. Many years passed from their start and dust set but they are always alive, fully of energy, brutal. Fernando Ribeiro is a great vocal and their set was as always well performed, balanced and professional. Laibach was one weird festival addition not entirely matching with the rest…but why not? A few songs and you are there dancing and mumbling around. Not bad but well… ticked the sign with seen Laibach. With the last reserves standing and watching the classy black metal march of death with the pioneers from Marduk. Not bad, not impressive, just in the usual Marduk line. For their true fans it surely was a great gig.
Some of the highlights from Friday: Cuttered Flesh, Depresy, E-Force, Insanity Alert, Hypnos, Inhume, Sadistic Intent, Harakiri For The Sky, Hate, Hentai Corporation, Nasty, Pestilence, Misery Index, Terror, At The Gates, Ministry, Behemoth, Carpathian Forest, Dead Congregation, Poppy Seed Grinder, Azarath, Cruachan, Ulsect, Eskhaton, Aluk Todolo, Myspyrming.
Very early Friday started with a handful of great bands as Cuttered Flesh, Depresy and Insanity Alert. No need for a morning coffee with such music. Surprisingly there were enough people to think so looking at the crowd number who managed to make it for such early hours. After all energy and good music came a moment we had to run when hearing the vocals from Harakiri For the Sky. Music on its own is ok, would do great to simply replace the singer (please don’t allow him sing, he can compose ok but singing is simply not for everyone). At the Gates made sure everyone is back on track with their tight set and Ministry gathered a massive crowd. Polish Behemoth are now one of the best live metal bands. The guys certainly know what they do and there is no space for failure. Highly professional, greatly arranged set, perfect sound, many special effects, fire, hoods, lights, fog… left the crowd cheering for more. A brilliant performance. To keep the musical style the festival continues with Carpathian Forest. Musically not much to say nor complain but the vocal’s performance left much to wish for… adding up with him being completely drunk and having what is called an equilibrium issue. Dead Congregation had a poweful performing music and style with a good set. Was a nice surprise many enjoyed. Time for some jolly Irish folks with Cruachan in the tent stage. Big crowd, good performance and a lot of good spirit in the air.
Some of the highlights from Saturday: Guineapig, Coffins, Angelmaker, Akercocke, Northlane, Plini, Integrity, Origin, Unleashed, Messiah, Dog Eat Dog, Nocturnus AD, Belphegor, Pain Of Salvation, Sepultura, Danzig, Wardruna, Perturbator, Esoteric, Broken Teeth, Celeste, Aura Noir, Abysmal Grief, Goblin, Dodecahedron.
Unleashed were the first act to remember on what was, unfortunately the last festival day. Good, technical and balanced. Dog Eat Dog was a odd add to the festival. A lot of joy, plastic water guns, jumps and dancy crowd. One good example to prove age does not necessarily make you be old and slow. Time for a bit of raw steak with the Austrians from Belphegor (speaking about their butchery shop souvenirs used as stage décor). A must say this band never gave a bad show. Professional, spot on and tight, a great portion of metal served and widely appreciated by the crowd. Sepultura is great but lets be honest…is a different Sepultura than few decades ago. Full of energy, with a good sound the band performed a classic set. Not sure what to expect with Danzig especially when so widely advertised. Not sure what to say after just that not much remained in memory besides weak vocals and many inconsistencies amongst the band members. Another surprise was Wardruna that we have seen before in their own proper concert in a theatre hall. Before the set you could see the crowd gathering and waiting patiently. Then it was all a shock for a metal music festival: everybody clapping hands, staying quietly and nice in one place and keep staring at the stage. An impressive set and perfect performance. An unique style, not much to do with metal but captivating and epic. The atmosphere was simply eerie and surely one the festival main highlight. More like art rather than music. Time to wake up with some brutal, restless and technical metal performed by Aura Noir and then time to have a break and meditate on the last few day…how time flies.
Is sadly Sunday and time to put the point on Brutal Assault 2018. Amazing festival, soooo many good bands and acts, so many memories and things to keep in mind, many improvements compared to previous editions and space to go even more high end pro. Well done, thank you and see you again next year.
The full gallery is available here.